Sunday, January 8, 2017

Out of the Shadows and into a New Shop – Rear 4-Link Suspension Installed!

At long last, I am extremely happy to say we are fully up and running in our new shop and FINALLY back to work on the Boss 302 project in earnest.  But before we cover the latest progress on the Boss, a quick overview of the last year or so in in order.

As many of you know, several circumstances and events of the last 2 years have conspired to consume most (ok…..almost ALL) of the time that would normally be dedicated to the ongoing build of our custom 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.  The domino effect began with the untimely passing of my uncle in April of 2014 from the ravages of cancers brought on by exposure to Agent Orange during his service in Viet Nam in the late 60’s.  This event required a rather sudden re-evaluation of just about everything going on in our home and existing work space to be able to accommodate the enormous amount of his belongings that were left to me on his passing.  Most significant in this was his prized 1932 Ford 5-window coupe; a Henry steel, real-deal gem that was a fixture in our home town in deep southern Texas since some time back in the late 40’s to early 50’s when my dad and uncle were youngsters.

Suddenly, the undeniable need for a new work space became the absolute priority and the only way we were going to be able to afford it was to build it ourselves.  Particularly since I had a lot of unique and otherwise rather costly features I wanted to incorporate along with construction details I was unwilling to compromise as well. So, in the summer of 2015, we began the long process of constructing a new shop to accommodate everything we needed and to provide a comfortable, albeit still undersized, work area that could now be dedicated to the current and future car building endeavors.

All told my dad and I, with the help a small handful of wonderful friends, my two son-in-law’s, and a few excellent pros, the structure was completed in about 4 months with the remaining interior finish work and details taking an additional 6 months or so to get everything “move-in” ready by our April 2016 deadline.

As April 2016 came, my good friend Bob (a true friend and soldier!) and I made the trip to East Texas to pull off a marathon 3-day pack-‘n-load effort (with amazing help from Gay, Midge, Jesse, & Jim!), of all of my Uncle’s wares and “The Coupe”.  With everything road-ready, we made our way back to Michigan with everything and ourselves in one piece.

The next four months were spent sorting EVERYTHING and putting things in their respective places so we could see the beautiful new floor again!  This felt like just about as much work as building the shop in the first place!  But, with perseverance, everything found its place and we were able to move the remaining cars and parts into the shop for the last time.  A few remaining smaller projects were completed to add a bit more functionality to the space and we found ourselves well into November 2016, and the first opportunity to actually refocus on car building in a year.  So there you have it……..the short version!

The "storage" side of the new shop..........already FULL!

This was a GOOD day!  The Boss project finally makes it's way into the new shop and a space all its own!  Still a good bit of clean-up needed in this shot, but that was completed shortly after this picture was taken.

Installing the Rear 4-Link Suspension Assembly

Getting back into the swing of things was a welcome and relatively painless process.  Funny how it always seems to work that way when you LOVE what you’re doing!

The rear axle and suspension had been essentially finished quite some time ago with only a few small details remaining to wrap up before it was ready to install.  First, I didn’t like the configuration of the brake “hard” line on the axle and decided to make a new one before the axle could go under the car.  I have gotten rather picky about hard line plumbing and while the first line looked plenty passable, it just wasn’t providing the “look” I wanted, so there was no choice but to scrap it and make a new one.
Once the brake plumbing was to spec, I installed the new rear brake calipers and brackets, along with fresh brake pads to round out the entire assembly.  At this point, there was nothing left but to install the entire works in the car and see how it all looked!

With the new hard line fabricated and in place and the new calipers and brackets installed, the axle was loaded on the cart and rolled under the car, ready to be lifted into place and hung in the chassis.

Installation was rather easy given the fact that, by this time, I had assembled and disassembled this system roughly a dozen times in fabrication and mock-up, so there was little doubt everything would drop it with little fanfare.  And so it was; everything installed with little conflict and in the course of a few hours, the axle was centered in the chassis and in the wheel openings (a nice bonus feature of a fully adjustable rear suspension!). 

A shot of the right side panhard mount and coilover.  Everything really looks tidy and business-like.

Left side coilover and panhard mounting detail.
 With the rear axle/suspension installed, the next dilemma was getting the car on some sort of temporary wheel/tire setup to allow it to remain mobile.  The challenge in this is that the Cobra front and rear brake combination severely limits the choices in spare wheels that will physically fir over the brakes.  It didn’t take long to see that factory Cobra or Bullitt Mustang spares are quite desirable and expensive, making them effectively a non-starter for shop use.  However, after considerable research and with the help of a very sharp gent at the local U-Pull-&-Save parts yard, we collected four pristine examples of 18” spares from later model, full sized Ford sedans (500, Taurus, Montego, Sable………you know, the ugly ones) and Freestyle crossovers which share the same 5 x 4.5” bolt pattern as the Mustang and have plenty of room for the big brakes.  For the cool sum of a whopping $11 each, we carted them home and the first pair of the set were bolted up to the flanges and we were set to go.

Cobra brakes (and larger) present some significant challenges when it comes to having temporary wheels that fit to roll around the shop.  Most are simply too small in inner diameter to fit over the brakes and the OEM Cobra and Bullitt spares command exorbitant dollars for this purpose.

Thanks to some diligent research and some excellent help from a local parts yard expert, we found a set of these 18" spares we harvested from later model Ford full-sized sedans.  Problem solved for the ripe sum of $11 bucks each!

So, for our first shot of work in our new space, we certainly didn’t move any mountains but I swear the earth moved when the last of the bolts was drawn up and the rear suspension was there for all to admire in its proper environment.  I’ve missed this work terribly and fortunately, we are well on our way to many more significant updates.

In the meantime, I wanted to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the many supporters and enthusiasts who have stuck with us through this unusual period of non-car-related activity and your unwavering support and encouragement is appreciated more than I could ever express.  You folks are what make this community so incredible!



  1. Wow, that's some great news for us following the rear link set-up from years back Sven. So glad to see it finally Home for good. Nice heads-up on the spare rims that fit the Cobra brakes. Looking forward to big progress in 2017!!!


    1. Hey RJ! Good hearing from you! And thanks for the note. Been WAY too long since regular work could continue on the car. Looking forward to a lot more forward progress soon. Stay tuned! BTW, are you back state-side?

  2. Sven! First, I'm very sorry about the loss of your uncle. Such a beautiful '32 but the circumstances of it's acquisition are regrettable. The 4-link is going to be amazing as is the new shop. Congrats on both! Glad to see that you're back at it. I think you should keep those beautiful spares on the car. ;-P

    1. Thank you sir. Very much appreciated. I was thinking i'd leave the spare on there too! Right diameter, right bolt pattern, $11 a piece and I could probably turn them over with a decent set of pedals! Not a single horsepower required! Going green! LOL!

  3. Sven, you definitely had a full and challenging year on just about every front imaginable. What a precious heirloom in that '32 coupe of your Uncle's. Glad you got the Boss in the shop and are getting back on it again. The 4-link is sweet. So does this mean posts will come more often now??? :-)

    1. Thanks Dennis! It's certainly been a roller coaster ride this past 18 months or so! Any YES! Posts will be coming more frequently with some videos sprinkled in between to cover some more detailed stuff we're working on. Knocking the rust off as we speak!